137 Miles today, about 295 miles to go. Total Miles is 9,615.
Today doesn’t start out well. As I ride away from my hotel I hear the back brake rubbing. A mile down the road I decide it is a problem and that I’d better take a look. A little closer look shows the back wheel has a large wobble in it. Broken spokes are no problem, I have plenty of spares. But none of the spokes are broken. I start to true the wheel then notice this:
Four of the spokes look as if they had been tugged hard enough to break the metal in the rim. It can only be the torque of the motor. The aluminum rim is just too soft to handle it. I cannot ride it, catastrophic failure is imminent.
What to do? A google search shows there are no bike shops in Hinesville. Their are no bike shops in any of the towns my ride takes me through today. The closest bike shop is back in Savannah, about 35 miles in the wrong direction.
I consult with Leslie, her solution is to rent a car and drive to Savannah and PU the part. Not a bad idea. I decide to go to Wal Mart instead with the intent of buying a new bicycle just for the rear wheel. Along the way I’ll look for a pawn shop.
When I arrive at Wal Mart I explain my situation to some employees outside and they say- “Oh, talk to Doug, he works on all the Wal Mart bikes.” Doug is paged to the front of the store. I explain my situation and show him the bike. Maybe he has a spare wheel at home?
But Doug is in charge of the returned bikes, and says they have a lot of them. He explains that when a bike is returned, they can’t give it away, and the manufacturer doesn’t want it back. He is instructed to chop the bikes up and throw them away. He presents my case to Alan, the manager, and Alan generously allows Doug to get me a wheel. Then he has my picture taken with him and some staff, just in case I really might be famous someday.
Doug shows up with a nice new steel wheel and we get to work.
The job is done. It is another one of those cases of going from despair to elation in an hour. The touring cyclist emotional roller coaster.
Thanks so much Doug and Wal Mart!
All-righty then, I’ve got a 115 mile ride and it is already after 10:00. I have 40 miles to go by 3:00 when I stop for lunch and to feed Sherpa. I decide to pick up speed and bump up the boost. But Blondie gets ditsie on me. She takes me off the highway for 6 miles, then turns me onto a dirt road, seeking a short cut. Cursing I decide to take it rather than backtrack. The road gets worse, becomes soft sand filled with deep puddles. My motor and batteries go underwater several times. But Sherpa keeps on trucking. I keep hoping each new turn will put me back on the pavement, but that is not happening. Finally I switch out of bicycle mode and to car mode. Blondie finds a highway just three miles away and I head towards it. When I do reach it, after over an hour, I now have 41 miles to go!
OK, time to let her fly. With maximum boost we roll comfortably along at about 19mph. It is dusk, and the lights get used to alert overtaking cars. Rain does not slow us down. We do make Fargo after dark. My hotel room is ready. Dinner is across the street.
Phew, it’s been a long day. Into Florida tomorrow morning, Ocala tomorrow night!